In its original sense, discipline is systematic instruction intended to train a person, sometimes literally called a disciple, in a craft, trade or other activity, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order. Often, the phrase "to discipline" carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order–that is, ensuring instructions are carried out–is often regulated through punishment. Discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with self control.
- I consider discipline indispensable, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a common purpose and a strong feeling of comradeship.
- To be disciplined does not mean being silent, abstaining, or doing only what one thinks one may undertake without risk; it is not the art of eluding responsibility; it means acting in compliance with orders received, and therefore finding in one's own mind, by effort and reflection, the possibility to carry out such orders. It also means finding in one's own will the energy to face the risks involved in execution.
- Ferdinand Foch, Precepts and Judgments (1919)
- Discipline is, in a manner, nothing else but the art of inspiring the soldiers with greater fear of their officers than of the enemy. This fear has often the effect of courage: but it cannot prevail against the fierce and obstinate valor of people animated by fanaticism, or warm love of their country.
- Claude Adrien Helvetius, De l'esprit or, Essays on the Mind, and Its Several Faculties (1758)
- I believe that through discipline, though not through discipline alone, we can achieve serenity, and a certain small but precious measure of the freedom from the accidents of incarnation, and charity, and that detachment which preserves the world which it renounces. I believe that through discipline we can learn to preserve what is essential to our happiness in more and more adverse circumstances, and to abandon with simplicity what would else have seemed to us indispensable; that we come a little to see the world without the gross distortion of personal desire, and in seeing it so, accept more easily our earthly privation and its earthly horror — But because I believe that the reward of discipline is greater than its immediate objective, I would not have you think that discipline without objective is possible: in its nature discipline involves the subjection of the soul to some perhaps minor end; and that end must be real, if the discipline is not to be factitious. Therefore I think that all things which evoke discipline: study, and our duties to men and to the commonwealth, war, and personal hardship, and even the need for subsistence, ought to be greeted by us with profound gratitude, for only through them can we attain to the least detachment; and only so can we know peace.
- Robert Oppenheimer, Letter to his brother Frank (12 March 1932), published in Robert Oppenheimer : Letters and Recollections (1995) edited by Alice Kimball Smith, p. 155
- No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
- William Penn, No Cross, No Crown (1682)
- One must manifest discipline of spirit; without it one cannot become free. To the slave discipline of spirit will be a prison; to the liberated one it will be a wondrous healing garden. So long as the discipline of spirit is as fetters the doors are closed, for in fetters one cannot ascend the steps.
One may understand the discipline of spirit as wings.
- Nicholas Roerich, Leaves Of Morya's Garden, Book II: Illumination, Introduction (1925)
- No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.
- Commonly attributed to Seneca the Younger during the 19th century, but not found in his works.
- Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.
- George Washington, Letter of Instructions to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments (29 July 1759)
- Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.
- George Washington, general orders, July 6, 1777.—The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 8, p. 359 (1933).